Sunday, February 24, 2008

Virginia Has Already Spent Their Fire Suppression Funds for the Year

Due to fire activity much busier than usual, the Virginia Department of Forestry has already spent their budgeted wildland fire suppression funds for the year. They intend to ask the Governor's office for more.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

"Entering the second week of the spring fire season, the Virginia Department of Forestry already has spent its entire 2008 funds for firefighting.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the outbreak of wildfires across the state two weeks ago that led Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to declare a state of emergency may have cost the department about $500,000, spokesman John Campbell said.

That's the agency's budget for firefighting for the entire year, Campbell said. "We are thinking we are tapped out . . . and we are just beginning the year."

The estimate includes expenses such as overtime payments and gasoline, as well as the use of helicopters and other heavy equipment. It doesn't include the localities' expenses, he said.

The National Guard, which was sent to help several counties, may have spent an additional $175,000, Campbell said.

Across the state, officials are still trying to calculate the financial losses from the 348 wildfires two weeks ago.

The fires, fueled by high winds, were caused mostly by downed trees that hit electrical wires. The fires consumed nearly 16,000 acres, about 4,000 more acres than burned in all of 2007, forestry officials said."

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